“AN APPALLING STATE OF AFFAIRS”: Irish greyhound sales agent fined £5,000 after “underweight, dehydrated, flea infested” greyhounds – including “A SKELETON ON LEGS” – found at UK track

3 Aug

tom tanner

An Irish greyhound sales agent who caused “extreme suffering” to greyhounds – including one described as “A SKELETON ON LEGS” – has been fined £5,000 and “warned off indefinitely” by the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB).

At a disciplinary committee inquiry at the beginning of July, the GBGB found that Tom Tanner from Cork was in breach of greyhound welfare rules. The breach was categorised as “the most serious kind”.

The committee heard that “Mr Tanner had now admitted the breaches pursued against him by the Board. These were: that in breach of Rule 174 (xi) Mr Tanner had caused or permitted greyhounds to be treated in such a manner as caused or was likely to cause unnecessary suffering; that in breach of Rule 2 he had failed to ensure the needs of greyhounds for which he was responsible were adequately met; and that by these breaches he was in breach of Rule 152 (i) and also in breach of Rule 152 (ii) in that he had acted in a manner prejudicial to the integrity, proper conduct and good reputation of greyhound racing.”

The committee’s report – published last Friday in the Greyhound Board of Great Britain’s “Calendar” publication, outlined that Tanner “delivered 24 greyhounds to an unlicensed sale at Kinsley Stadium on 22 January 2016, arranged with the cooperation of the stadium, offering the dogs on a sale or return basis for a price of £350 per dog, payable if the dog subsequently achieved the stadium’s grading time. He transported the greyhounds overnight from his kennels in County Cork via the Belfast to Liverpool ferry, arriving at the stadium before 8.30am.”

Several trainers viewing the dogs raised concerns with stadium management about their “very poor condition”.

Kinsley Stadium’s Racing Manager and Welfare Officer had both inspected the greyhounds and “they too had been seriously concerned by their condition and the conditions in which they had been transported.” They had asked the vet on duty at the track to examine the dogs. They also asked trainers to “take greyhounds into their care so that they would not have to travel back to Ireland with Mr Tanner and to provide water and bedding for the greyhounds that could make the journey”.

The vet examined 15 of the 24 greyhounds. He found:

– Five seriously underweight, in one case by some 20%, in three cases with suspected worm infestation.
– All 15 were flea infested, some heavily so.
– Five greyhounds had longstanding, untreated wounds, either caused or aggravated by self mutilation, probably in response to flea infestation.
– Two had multiple pressure sores.
– One had urine scalding to both hocks.
– Six were dehydrated.
– The condition of eight of the 15 meant they should not have made the journey to Kinsley Stadium and were not fit for transport but had to be homed locally.

According to witnesses, there was little bedding in the van used to transport the dogs from Ireland and what there was had been covered in urine. They said they saw urine coming from the cages, dogs lying in their own urine, and insufficient drinking water. A greyhound trainer at the scene said the van “was in a terrible condition and the dogs had been treated in a disgusting manner”.

Counsel, Louis Weston – representing the GBGB – submitted that “most of the greyhounds were suffering from conditions likely to cause discomfort and suffering, some to the extent that they were unfit to travel to Kinsley Stadium” and that “the nature and state of those conditions meant that they had been suffering from them for some time before that journey.”

This, he continued, showed that Mr Tanner had not exercised any proper or sufficient husbandry of the greyhounds – “This was about as bad a case of neglect as there could be. Mr Tanner was shown to be someone who simply should not be allowed to be involved in greyhound racing. He should be kept out of the sport. The appropriate penalty was that he be warned off indefinitely.”

The inquiry heard that “Mr Tanner accepted the vet’s judgment that the condition of the dogs had been ‘an appalling state of affairs’ and that he should have been aware of their condition”. In the inquiry report, it was stated: “Mr Tanner had disgracefully neglected the proper care of the 24 greyhounds that he had taken to sell at Kinsley Stadium in January 2016. He had caused them serious, unnecessary suffering both by the state into which he had allowed them to decline before the sale and by the appalling conditions in which he had transported them to that sale. As for the conditions in which they made the 15 hours-plus journey from County Cork to Kinsley Stadium, the evidence was that greyhounds were provided with insufficient water and had either inadequate or no bedding in their cages.”

The shocking conditions of individual greyhounds were detailed as follows:

“- LETS GO BADGER was 20% underweight with an infestation of fleas that could not have been treated for a month. It was dehydrated and had a large, infected, untreated wound, at least a week old, that was causing it obvious suffering.
– BROSNA GIRL was about 10% underweight, flea infested, and had two one or two-week-old, untreated wounds on the shoulder and back, probably aggravated by the dog licking, biting or scratching its flea infestation.
– PIERSI ZACH was 20-25% underweight, dehydrated, flea infested, and had two one or two-week-old, untreated wounds to its ribcage and front left leg, causing particular discomfort when travelling in a confined space.
– BEST VISIT was about 10% underweight, flea infested, and had wounds on both hind legs, caused either by confinement or self-mutilation, reacting to flea infestation.
– UNKNOWN ECLIPSE was seriously underweight, dehydrated, flea infested, and had pressure sores on all 4 legs caused over some time by a lack of bedding and self-mutilation, making it difficult to rest comfortably at all and causing considerable discomfort when travelling. [Greyhound trainer] Ms Wilson described this greyhound as “in disgusting condition” and as “a skeleton on legs”, saying she had not seen a greyhound in such a condition in 50 years greyhound racing. All the other 11 dogs examined by [vet] Dr Bossuyt were also flea infested, with
– JUBRI JUKE particularly heavily infested.
– BECKYS DIVA was also dehydrated and had a large, old wound on the right flank, making it unfit to travel back to Ireland.
– SANDI SPEC and DOUBLE DINER were also dehydrated and unfit to travel.
– DERREW DIXIE also had a pressure sore on the left front foot.
– UNKNOWN ELSA was not examined by Dr Bossuyt, but [trainer] Mr May described how she was in very poor condition, being underweight, dehydrated and flea infested.

The committee enquiry heard that Mr Tanner had been supplying greyhounds to the UK for 10 years, selling more than 1,000 dogs “without any similar complaint against him”. But it did not accept his explanation that “with some 40% more dogs than usual in his care, he had let things get away from him and had simply not realised the extent of the injuries to the greyhounds or the degree to which they had become underweight”. The committee’s response was that “he must have noticed the condition these greyhounds had got into, at the very latest when he loaded them into the cages in his van for their miserable, overnight journey to be sold by him at Kinsley Stadium.”

The report added: “Mr Tanner caused all the identified greyhounds unnecessary suffering, in some cases extreme suffering. He failed lamentably and with serious consequences to ensure the welfare of all these greyhounds, failing to provide them with a suitable environment, failing to provide at least a significant number with a suitable diet and failing to protect them from pain, suffering and injury. It was no mitigation that he had not been detected in any similar conduct since January 2016, nor that he had protracted the misery for himself by appealing the decision made by this Committee in April 2016. Mr Tanner had shown no remorse or contrition for his conduct and treatment of these greyhounds until that expressed by his counsel at this hearing.”

The committee said it had no doubt that the appropriate sanction was that Mr Tanner be “warned off indefinitely”. He was also fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £8,420 (half the GBGB’s costs).

Read the full inquiry committee report at

See also: Greyhound breeder appeals drugs finding


Join the “End Greyhound Racing” protest outside Shelbourne Park on Saturday September 22nd. This “Irish Greyhound Derby” peaceful protest will take place from 5-9pm at the entrance to Shelbourne Park stadium on South Lotts Road, Dublin 4.

Say NO to the greyhound industry – don’t attend races or fund-raisers held at greyhound tracks. Distribute our “6 reasons to say NO to greyhound racing” leaflet outside greyhound tracks to encourage people to show compassion and boycott greyhound racing. You can download the leaflet at http://www.banbloodsports.com/ln170616.htm or order copies by emailing info@banbloodsports.com

Contact Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Agriculture Minister Michael Creed and Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe and demand an end to the use of public funds to prop up the dying greyhound industry. Email “Stop funding the cruel greyhound industry” to taoiseach@taoiseach.gov.ie, leo.varadkar@oireachtas.ie, michael.creed@oir.ie, paschal.donohoe@oireachtas.ie, minister@per.gov.ie

An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar
Government Buildings,
Upper Merrion St, Dublin 2
Tel: +353 (0)1-6194020
Email: taoiseach@taoiseach.gov.ie, leo.varadkar@oireachtas.ie
Leave a comment on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/campaignforleo/
Tweet to: @campaignforLeo

Michael Creed TD
Minister for Agriculture
Kildare Street, Dublin 2.
Email: michael.creed@oir.ie
Tel: +353 (0)1-607 2000 or LoCall 1890-200510.
Leave a comment on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/michaelcreedtd
Tweet to: @creedcnw

Paschal Donohoe TD
Minister for Finance
Email: paschal.donohoe@oireachtas.ie, minister@per.gov.ie
Phone: +353 (0)1 6045810
Leave a comment on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PaschalDonohoe/
Tweet to @Paschald

Please sign and share our petition
Irish Government: Stop Giving Millions of Euro to Cruel Greyhound Industry

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